A national debate has erupted in Denmark following a controversial statement passed by parliament which brands immigrants and their descendants as not Danish.
“The Parliament notes with concern that today there are areas in Denmark, where the proportion of immigrants and descendants from non-Western countries is over 50 per cent,” read the statement, adopted by a narrow majority in early February.
“It is the parliament’s belief that Danes should not be a minority in Danish neighbourhoods.”
In response, a Copenhagen-based advertising firm – Gorilla Media – released an emotive three-minute video of second-generation children being told they aren’t Danish.
The video shows the childrens’ variously confused and tearful reactions, imploring politicians to “please, remember who you’re talking about”.
Denmark is one of many European countries which have struggled to deal with a wave of migrants and refugees across EU borders.
The country has had one of the harsher responses in the EU – tightening family reunification laws, imposing a tough, new citizenship test, and passing a controversial law to seize assets from asylum seekers to pay for their care.
Immigrants and their descendants make up approximately 12 per cent of the Danish population.
In the Gorilla Media video, 11-year-old Abdi tells an unseen man behind the camera he is from Denmark.
“No, you’re not Danish Abdi,” the man says.
“Am I not?,” Abdi asks.
“I feel Danish – I have fun in Denmark, I was born and grew up here and I have a lot of friends here.”
9-year-old Radil was confused when he was told he wasn’t Danish.
“I have been raised here and I like Denmark and it’s fun to be here,” he said.
But it was 7-year-old Scarlett – the filmmaker’s own daughter – who had the most emotional response, breaking into tears.
Her father, Alex Sabour, spoke to Dagens Media, saying that his daughter has often been told she’s not Danish.
“It’s part of our everyday life. Danish children are not stupid, blind or deaf,” the Iranian-born Danish citizen said.
Social media users have criticised the film-makers for using the children to make a political point.
Sabour said he made the film on behalf of children. Those in the video were sourced from friends and family members.
“After each individual interview was over, we spoke with the child, exchanged hugs, high-fives, and had eye-opening conversations where they opened up and told us about all the times they had experienced discrimination in Denmark,” the filmmakers said.
“We also had spoken with them as to why we were asking these ‘silly questions’ and that, of course, they were Danish.”
“We are a professional marketing and advertising bureau, so with the use of music, tempo, editing, audio, were able to create a mood and tell a story on camera that is far more dramatic than what was experienced by the children, the crew or their parents,” they said.